Privacy Act Guide

The purpose of this overview is to answer some frequently asked questions about the Privacy Act.  For further information on how the Privacy Act is implemented at the National Endowment for the Arts, please see 45 C.F.R. § 1159.

What is the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a companion to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It allows individuals access to federal agency records about themselves. It requires that personal information in agency files be accurate, complete, relevant, and timely. Additionally, each agency must publish a description of each system of records maintained by the agency that contains personal information.

What information is available under the Privacy Act?

By making a request under the Privacy Act, you can:

  • find out whether an NEA system of records contains a record that pertains to you;
  • gain access to the applicable record; and
  • request that a correction or amendment be made to the record.

How do I make a Privacy Act request?

You must make your request in writing and specifically identify the NEA system(s) of records that you would like searched.  A list of the NEA systems and the types of records they contain is available here.

The NEA requires reasonable identification to ensure that records are disclosed to the proper person.  If you are sending your request from within the United States or a U.S. territory, the request must include certification that a duly commissioned notary public received an acknowledgment of identity from you.  If you are sending your request from outside of the United States, a similar official may substitute for a notary public. Click here to download a blank certification form.

Please mail your request with your completed certification to:

Privacy Act Requests
Office of General Counsel
National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

Are fees charged for making requests under the Privacy Act?

The NEA does not charge fees for search or review time.  However, the Endowment may charge duplication fees.  Copies of records made by photocopy or similar process will be charged to you at the rate of $0.10 per page. Where records cannot be photocopied, you will be charged actual cost as determined on a case-by-case basis. A copying fee totaling $3.00 or less shall be waived.

Where a copy of the record must be made in order to provide access to the record (e.g., computer printout where no screen reading is available), the copy will be made available to you without cost.

Additional fee information can be found at 45 C.F.R. § 1159.12.

How can I pursue amending or correcting an Endowment record?

You are entitled to request amendments to or corrections of records pertaining to you.  Such a request should be made in writing and addressed to the Office of the General Counsel.

Your request for amendments or corrections should specify the following:

  • the particular record that you are seeking to amend or correct;
  • the Endowment system from which the record was retrieved;
  • the precise correction or amendment you desire, preferably in the form of an edited copy of the record reflecting the desired modification; and
  • your reasons for requesting amendment or correction of the record.

Additional information can be found at 45 C.F.R. § 1159.10.

How can I appeal a refusal to amend or correct an NEA record?

If the NEA denies your request to amend or correct a record, you can appeal.  Such appeal must be made in writing within 10 business days of your receipt of the initial refusal to amend or correct your record. Your appeal should be sent to the Chairman of the NEA in care of the Office of the General Counsel.  The correspondence should indicate that it is an appeal, and it should include the basis for the appeal.

The appeal can be mailed or faxed to:

NEA Chairman
c/o Office of General Counsel
National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506
202/682-5572 (fax)

After the Chairman reviews your request, he shall issue a decision within 30 business days.  If the Chairman, for good cause shown, extends the 30-day period, you will be informed in writing of the extension and the circumstances of the delay.

Additional information on the appeal process can be found at 45 C.F.R. § 1159.11.